“Look! Stop! There’s the Boot!”
That excited cry has emanated from many a car over the past few years, as its occupants seek out the popular Big Boots of Cheyenne.
The Big Boots are eight-foot tall fiberglass boots, each painted with whimsical, historical or even scientific themes, which are scattered throughout the city and have been sought out by tourists since late 2004.
The History of the Big Boots
These Boots began as a fundraising project in 2004 to help renovate the Cheyenne Depot Plaza in front of the historic Cheyenne Depot – turning it from a block-long blacktopped parking lot into an attractive, landscaped plaza full of historical markers and sculptures for the enjoyment of tourists, with plenty of room for community-drawing events such as Farmer’s Markets, and stages for entertainment events such as the Friday Nights on the Plaza concert series to delight Cheyenne’s residents.
Dozens of artists from the Rocky Mountain region were contacted and commissioned to paint a Boot. Their only instruction: “If this Boot could tell a story, what story would it tell?”
The painted Boots were then placed on display inside the Depot for the community to enjoy until they were auctioned in October 2004, with buyers coming from Wyoming, Nebraska, even as far away as Sedona, Arizona.
Most of the Boots did stay in Cheyenne – on display around the completed Plaza, in front of a variety of businesses and in one case, a museum, and they were an immediate hit with visitors as well as Cheyenne residents.
Jill Pope, the Director of Operations for the Cheyenne Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, commented:
“It’s a wonderful thing for the community. …working here out of the Historic Depot building I see tourists every single day taking photos of those Boots.”
“The Great Cheyenne Boot Hunt” calls to even repeat visitors to Cheyenne, who scour the city again and again because new Boots have been added on a regular basis, and some of the original Boots have changed their location.
The Boots of Cheyenne are talked of throughout the country and even the world, and their artists are proud to have been part of this project that continues to bring pleasure to so many.
According to Pope, who was also the artist for two of the Boots (“Don’t Feed the Animals,” part of the original 24 Boots, and “Milestones: Chamber 100th Anniversary,” commissioned later):
“I had almost a full-page picture [of one of my Boots] in the Sacramento newspaper. It’s been in the Chicago newspaper. It’s on the cover of a Japanese tour book… I’ve had people send me pictures of my boots in newspapers around the country. I feel like there’s nothing that I will probably ever do in my life that will get as much coverage or reach as many people. It’s not even about the accolades, it’s about people seeing your work and just knowing that it’s being appreciated.”
The Boots That Talk
Visitors can do more than admire the paintings on the Boots and take selfies with them. Each of the Boots “talks” – if you know how to listen.
Go to the Information Center inside the Cheyenne Depot and get one of the “These Boots Are Made For Talking” brochures. It provides a map of the location of the Boots, and a phone number for an audio tour.
Simply call 307-316-0067, input the number of the Boot that you are standing in front of, and you’ll hear the voice of the artist sharing his or her vision for the Boot and what story they wished to tell.
The Boots That Walk
Over the past 13 years (and for the foreseeable future), the Cheyenne Depot Foundation has given people and businesses the opportunity to commission a Big Boot, and several Boots have been painted and put on display by their new owners. But that’s not all – even businesses in cities as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada have come to the Depot Foundation to commission a Boot!
At the time of this writing there are 24 Big Boots scattered throughout the city. As mentioned earlier, not all of them are from the original batch of 24. Some of those have been moved, and new Boots are being added all the time.
For example, for many years the “Memories of the Old West” Boot was inside the Halladay Motors car dealership at 2100 Westland Road, but since 2016 its home has been behind the Cheyenne Depot, adjacent to the railroad tracks.
The “Journey of the Soul” Boot, gorgeous and unique because most of its images were created from stain glass glued onto the Boot in an intricate mosaic, features the Devil’s Tower at sunrise on the front of the Boot and an “angelic vision” on the back. It originally stood in front of the Hitching Post Inn at 1700 W Lincolnway, but was removed to be refurbished by the artist. It will take up a new residence in the newly expanded Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, scheduled for some time in late 2017.
Since its creation in 2004, the “Saga of Tom Horn” Boot had been peripatetic – its owner, Simon Construction, had moved the Boot from facility to facility as a Safety Award. In 2016, after refurbishment, Simon Construction donated it to the city and it now has a permanent location in front of the County Court Complex – a fitting location because it’s inside the Historic County Courthouse that Tom Horn was hung in 1903.
The Boots That Wait for You
As of the time of this writing (April 17, 2017), this is the most efficient guide (we think) to all the Boots currently available for view.
Remember you can obtain a brochure from the Cheyenne Info Center inside the Depot, that comes with a map, but we’re sharing with you our suggested route to find all 24 Boots in the least amount of time. (NOTE: the latest brochure put out by Visit Cheyenne, at the time of this writing, lists the “Journey of the Soul” Boot at its old location at the Cheyenne Hitching Post. It is no longer there. It will be at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens sometime in late 2017! In addition, it is missing the Saga of Tom Horn Boot. They’ll be updating their brochure in the future.)
Your Great Cheyenne Big Boot Hunt Guide
Historic Downtown – Walk the Walk
Park in the Jack Spiker parking garage on the corner of Carey and Lincolnway. (You enter the garage on Carey and will exit on Carey as well.) It’s convenient to keep your car here because when you start driving to see the rest of the Boots, you’ll be going north on Carey.
It will take a couple of hours to see all the Boots in the Historic Downtown area if you walk – but it’s a good idea to stretch your legs as you’ll get a good view of all of Cheyenne’s downtown buildings. Imagine yourself walking down boardwalks instead of concrete sidewalks, with horses and buggies passing by in the roads (unless it’s been raining heavily in which case they’ll be stuck in the roads).
You’re hunting for 12 Boots on this Walk. When all the Boots have been visited you will have walked less than two miles.
The Cheyenne Depot Route
Start your Hunt at the Cheyenne Depot, where you’ll find six of the Boots.
On the east corner of the Cheyenne Depot Plaza is (1) “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play,” a whimsical Boot featuring a deer and an antelope playing poker.
On the west corner of the Cheyenne Depot Plaza, along with a couple of historical markers and the Historic Downtown Cheyenne Heritage Map, are two Boots, (2) “Downtown Cheyenne” featuring images of downtown. (Photo tip: Jutting out from the corner of the Wrangler western clothing store building is a cowboy on horseback. The same image appears on the Boot. Take your photo so that you can see both of them in the same shot).
Flanking “Downtown Cheyenne” is (3) “Don’t Feed the Animals,” with a pronghorn antelope on the front of the Boot, gazing at you, a cutthroat trout on the back, and a couple of other iconic Wyoming animals hidden on the toe and boot strap. See if you can find them.
Walk through the Depot Plaza to the entrance of the Depot itself (passing more historical markers). To the left is (4) “Governors of Wyoming,” painted as if each of the governor’s signatures was the square of a quilt which has been put together. (5) is the “Chamber 100th Anniversary”, depicting notable accomplishments of the Cheyenne Greater Chamber of Commerce.
Walk down the sidewalk to your right (west) and take your first left to go around the side of the Depot building, and another left to go behind it.
You’ll see (6) “Memories of the Old West”, with an eagle soaring through a dramatic sky and a train on the tracks promising adventure.
Return to the west entrance to the Cheyenne Depot Plaza.
The Historic Downtown Route
You’re now going to walk in a bit of a circle (although you won’t be returning to the Depot Plaza but rather to your car in the Jack Spiker parking garage on Carey).
You’re going to be on the hunt for six more Boots, going east – north – west – south – and then back north a little bit!
Start walking east on 15th street for one block, until you come to Central, which is a one-way going south. (At its corner is the historic Plains Hotel, built in 1911).
Cross to the other side of Central and head north. You’ll walk 7 blocks up to 23rd Street, about five-tenths of a mile, total.
On the block between 23rd and 24th Streets is the Wyoming State Museum. Here you’ll find the whimsical (7) “License to Boot” – featuring a Boot covered with Wyoming license plates. (Visit the Museum, if you’ve a mind to, or if you’re a collector of stretched pennies, go inside to the lobby where there’s a stretched penny machine with 4 different designs.)
Retrace your steps to 19th Street, and turn left/west.
You will walk one block and see the American National Bank (ANB) across Capitol Avenue. The (8) “8 Second Steps to the Big Time” Boot, showcasing a few selected events in the life of a rodeo cowboy, is near the entrance to the bank. (To your right, down Capitol, is the Capitol Building. To your left, you get a great view of the Cheyenne Depot.)
Continue walking west for the rest of the block (past the parking lot for the ANB bank), and you will come to Carey, a one-way going north. Cross Carey and jog a bit to your right to the County Court Complex – a late 1800s building (the Historic County Courthouse) connected via an atrium to a modern building (the new County Courthouse). In front of the glass atrium is the (9) “Saga of Tom Horn” Boot.
NOTE: If you’re interested in the story of Tom Horn, and you’ve got time, go into the building from this entrance and turn left, past Le Café, into the Historic Old Courthouse and go up to the second floor. There’s a small tribute to Horn there, featuring photos illustrating his story: a “cattle detective” whose job it was to catch rustlers, who either killed or was framed for killing a young boy, and was convicted and hanged near the spot where you’ll be standing, in 1903.
Three more Boots to go.
Standing on the corner of 19th and Carey, turn right/north and walk three blocks to 22nd Street. Then turn left/west. Walk two blocks on 22nd Street, passing Pioneer, until you come to the Laramie County Public Library. Here you’ll find the whimsical (10) “Book Boot”, featuring a delightful figure of Alice in Wonderland.
Walk one more block, to O’Neil, and turn left. There, you’ll find the (11) “Religion’s A Kick” Boot. Pay attention to the spur, it’s got tiny crosses jutting from it.
Keep walking all the way down O’Neil until you return to Lincolnway. Cross Lincolnway and continue one more block until you come to its intersection with 15th Street. Turn right to see the (12) “’32 Ford B” Boot on your right, featuring a gorgeous ’32 Ford car parked in front of the historic Asher Building – which is the same building where the Boot is placed now.
This is the last of the Boots within walking distance of the Depot. You’ve found 12 Boots so far.
There are now ten more Boots to go, and for these you’ll definitely need to drive your car.
Walk back up to Lincolnway, and walk right/east one block until you get to Carey. Enter the Jack Spiker Parking Garage, and find your car.
Time to Drive
Two of the Boots are located a few miles out of town to the west (both being new commissions from 2015), four of the Boots are located a few miles to the north, and five of the boots are on the outskirts of town to the east.
We’ll start out going west, and return to the Cheyenne Depot Plaza from the east.
We’ll have you retracing your steps a bit, as you’ll see, but what we’re presenting is the easiest, non-highway way of getting to the Boots.
You’re in your car.
Exit onto Carey, turn left/north and drive up to 24th Street. Turn left/west.
Drive 2.4 miles until you get to 1301 W. 24th St., where you’ll see a sign for Black Hills Energy (aka Cheyenne Light Fuel and Power) on your left.
There’s a Boot in their parking lot, (13) “Our Legacy, Improving Life with Energy.”
You may be able to find parking on the street, or turn into their parking lot for a brief minute to take your photo.
Continue west on 24th for a tenth of a mile until you get to the intersection with Missile Drive. Zero out your trip odometer and turn right.
As you drive along Missile Drive, the name will shortly change to Happy Jack Road. Follow it as it curves around the outskirts of the city, for 3.4 miles.
As you drive, you’ll pass a sign for Curt Gowdy State Park (it’s on the same road only 24 more miles distant!), and past a historical marker for Camp Carlin (an Army supply depot that performed a vital function during Cheyenne’s early days on the frontier).
Keep going past a dark brown sign proclaiming the North Range Business Park.
Turn left at the next North Range Business Park sign, which is Logistics Drive (and which is at approx. 3.3 miles if you’ve zeroed out your odometer once you turned onto Missile Drive).
On your right will be the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Super Computing facility. At two tenths of a mile, turn right onto Veta Drive, and then turn into their parking lot. Once you take a photo of the (14) “Atmospheric Research” Boot, turn around and retrace your steps to Logistics Drive. (It seems like you can continue to drive forward in the parking lot, but it’s a dead end.)
Return to the intersection with Logistics Drive and turn right. Drive a couple more tenths of a mile to the second exit to your right, identified by a small blue sign that points out its for employees and visitors (and almost hidden by some concrete barriers and some electric junction boxes), and drive slowly over the speed bumps until the road curves to the left and you’ll come to the parking lot and the (15) “Grocery’s New Frontier” Boot.
Now it’s time to find the Boots to the north.
Retrace your steps to Logistics Drive. Zero out your odometer and turn back onto Happy Jack Road. Continue on Happy Jack Road until it turns back into Missile Drive, and turn left once more onto 24th Street (approx. 3.3 miles).
Drive back to Carey and turn left/north (the only direction you can go.
Stay in the right hand lane. At a certain point Carey becomes a two-way road. Continue driving until you get to 8th Avenue. Ahead of you you’ll see a sign for Frontier Park and Cheyenne Frontier Days. Continue across 8th Avenue, jogging just a bit to your right, and on Carey until you come to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum on your left. (The entrance is past the bus stop and just beyond the white Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum sign).
If you’re a stretched penny collector, be sure to go inside the Museum building to get your pennies. The machine is to your left as you enter the lobby, just in front of the gift shop.
When you exit the parking lot, turn right onto Carey. Retrace your steps to 8th Avenue, and turn left.
Follow 8th Avenue until you come to Warren Avenue (three tenths of a mile). Cross Warren, keeping in the right lane. The Cheyenne Municipal Airport will be on your left. Pass the first exit into the airport, and turn left using the second turn into the parking lot. Park in this lot.
The Boot, (17) “Blue Skies Over Cheyenne,” is inside the airport, up a flight of steps leading to the Peaks Café. It features illustrations of over 15 planes that flew in and out of Cheyenne, including a mail plane that is appropriate because Cheyenne was one of the stopping points on the original transcontinental airmail route.
If you’re hungry, stop in at the café for a bite to eat!
When you’re ready to leave, drive through the parking lot (rather than retracing your steps) to the exit, and turn right/north on Warren Avenue. Zero out your odometer.
Warren will eventually turn into Yellowstone (as you pass the exit for Dell Range).
Follow Warren and stay in the left-hand lane until you get to Storey. This is at the 1.6 mile mark. Turn left on Storey, park on the side of the road, and visit the #1 Properties Real Estate Building. (18) “Springtime in Cheyenne” which features illustrations of several historic Cheyenne homes in springtime, is here.
Return to your car, turn around in a parking lot along Storey to get back to Yellowstone.
Turn left and continue driving north until you get to the intersection with Vanderhei – which goes to the left. Gardenia which goes to the right. (It’s the same road, it just has different names depending on which direction you choose.)
Turn right on Gardenia, and left after one block onto Yellowtail Rd, to see (19) “Dental Art,” especially commissioned by a dental practice and depicting antique dental instruments.
This is the last of the northernmost boots. Time to go east!
Turn around safely on Yellowtail Rd to return to Gardenia, and turn right. Follow Gardenia as it meanders through a residential district for 1.1 miles. Enjoy the architecture of the houses.
At the 1.1 mile mark, turm right on Powderhouse, and take that two tenths of a mile to Storey, where you’ll turn left.
You can continue further down one block on Powderhouse to Dell Range, if you like. Turn left on Dell Range, and you’ll pass many restaurants on either side of the road, as well as a Target, a Sam’s Club and a Walmart on your left, and a Barnes & Noble on your right.
Note that Dell Range is a very busy road, and there are a lot of red lights. If you go left on Storey instead of Dell Range, you will pass by a residential area on your left, but there are no red lights for 2.4 miles, when you’ll come to a stop sign on Ridge. Continue on another four tenths of a mile to College, and turn right.
After a mile you’ll pass the intersection of College and Dell Range. So you’ve added an extra mile to your trip – but you’ll have got to the same spot quicker because of the lack of stop lights on Storey!
Continue to drive south on College for 3.2 miles, staying in the left hand lane. Take the Campstool Rd exit, staying in the right-most of the two turn lanes. Stay in the right hand lane as you drive past the new Walmart on your right hand side. (Ignore the sign with an arrow pointing toward Campstool Way – you’re on Campstool Rd and that’s where you want to be.”
Camptstool Rd turns into a one-lane in both directions, so pay attention to traffic!
At the .5 mark, turn right onto Cleveland Place, and follow the road just a few hundred yards. Dy-Star Foam control will be on your left. You can park in their parking lot – it typically isn’t full. The (20) “People, Places and Things” Boot is inside the foyer. Note the big toe sticking out of the toe of the Boot!
Four more Boots to go.
Return to Campstool Road, and turn left. Stay in the left-hand lane when the road widens into four lanes, going up an incline to the bridge that is the intersection with College Drive.
Stay in the left lane, with the yellow lane marker as your guideline, and turn left onto College.
Drive 3 miles on College until you get to the Laramie County Community College (called L-Triple C by the locals).
Note: pay attention to the speed limit! 50 mph. This is enforced!
Pass two exits on your right, each one marked with a sign, and take the third exit, which doesn’t have a sign. You’ll see the (21) “Eagle Eye on the Future” in a landscaped area on your right. Find a place to park, and after you’ve taken its photo, continue toward a set of buildings in front of you. Go down some steps and enter the Fine Arts Building.
Turn left in the hallway, then your first right, and exit the Fine Arts Building.
Once you’re outside, turn right, and the (22) “40 Years of Excellence” Boot is in a beautifully landscaped area.
Retrace your steps, return to your car, and drive the way you came in, back to College Drive.
Turn right on College Drive, and drive 4.5 miles until it intersects with Greeley Highway/Highway 85. This section of College Drive has a speed limit of 40 mph, and it is enforced.
Turn right onto Greeley Highway/Highway 85.
Drive in the right-hand lane until you get to 5th Street, and turn right. (You’ll have drive 1.5 miles)
Turn an immediate right again, onto Warren, and follow this about a hundred yards to the (23) “Floyd’s Trucking” boot, another new commission from 2015. You can park in the first parking lot you come to on the left, if it is not full of trucks. That’s where the Floyd’s Trucking Boot is, as well.
One more Boot to go!
Get back onto Warren, drive back to 5th Street, and turn right onto Greeley Highway. Continue to drive north for another mile until you get to the intersection with Lincolnway. Stay in the right hand lane, so you can turn immediately right onto Lincolnway, traffic permitting.
As soon as traffic permits, get into the left hand lane, and drive .5 miles until you get to Morrie Avenue. (It will be the first set of traffic lights you come to.)
Turn left onto Morrie, and make an immediate right turn into a parking lot for the Cheyenne Artists’ Guild.
The (24) “Outlaws of Wyoming” Boot is situated to the right of the historic Carriage House, which is the headquarters of the Cheyenne Artists’ Guild.
The Hunt is over!
You’re in Holliday Park. Follow the road you just turned on to go deeper into Holliday Park to find Big Boy, one of the last remaining steam locomotives.
Then, return to Morrie, turn right onto Lincolnway, and drive back toward the Cheyenne Depot.
The Hunt is complete!